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LJ residents weigh in on planning rules

A proposal to start updating the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (PDO), the community’s blueprint for development, was warmly received by more than 30 local residents at an orientation meeting last week.

Tim Lucas of the La Jolla Shores Association chaired the meeting, which was not sponsored by the La Jolla advisory group but enjoyed its full support.

“This meeting is not intended to resolve all issues, but to start a series of meetings to get community input on revising the PDO,” said Lucas, who described himself as an ordinary resident who became involved in community planning “because I realized there was a lot of ambiguity in our (building) codes.”

“We really need to tighten these up,” he added.

Lucas said the first step in revising the Shores ordinance is to “listen to the concerns of the community.”

Audience members introduced themselves, stating their backgrounds and planning concerns. Many were longtime Shores residents, and a couple were architects.

All expressed concerns with the bulk and scale of development, urging enactment of planning regulations and guidelines that will preserve the community’s small-town character while allowing ample flexibility for commercial and residential development.

Daira Paulson, who lives on Hidden Valley Road, said she was concerned about the proposed development of Chabad synagogue near “the Throat” intersection.

Mary Rothschild, a retired teacher who was around for the debate over formation of the first Shores PDO in the ‘70s, said she’s seen a “total deterioration” in protections designed to prevent new development from being oversized or blocking neighbors’ views.

Architect Dale Naegle said the Shores has a distinctive style worthy of being protected.

“One of the characteristics of the La Jolla Shores area is that it is hodgepodge - good hodge and good podge,” he quipped. “We have a variety of (property) setbacks. We don’t look like an automobile community. We’re kind of a gateway to the ocean.”

Shores residents are proud of their community, Naegle noted. “They share the love for our community, and they don’t want to see it taken advantage of,” he said.

Jim Heaton, chairman of the Shores association, stressed that the community needs to work with 1st District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner to streamline the process of revising the Shores’ PDO, which hasn’t been updated since 1975.

Joe LaCava, chairman of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, which advises the city on land use in La Jolla, said the Shores has one big advantage in getting the city of San Diego to support its PDO update: “The city doesn’t like the PDO, either.”

John McColl, who chairs the La Jolla Shores Advisory Board, expressed frustration with the lack of detail in the current Shores document.

“There’s such a lack of definition for us reviewing (housing) projects,” he said. “To deny projects, bulk and scale is the only thing we can hide behind. We vote things down, and they (projects) fly right through us. The only way to stop that is changing the PDO to say, ‘No, that is not allowed.’ ”

Lucas said the Shores PDO committee, which is still being formed, would meet in a couple weeks at a time and place yet to be determined. He encouraged local residents to e-mail their lists of priorities, questions and suggestions about what needs to be done to improve the Shores PDO to lspdoreview@gmail.com.